ASU says saliva test for COVID-19 could be a game-changer amid long wait times

Posted at 10:15 AM, Jul 21, 2020

Coronavirus testing is starting to pick up across the state -- but is it enough?

We've seen the long lines for more than a month and people having to wait nearly two weeks for results, in some cases.

Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute says their new saliva test could be a real game-changer in getting a better handle on this pandemic.

On July 10, we met Heidy Gonzales who was in line for free testing through the HeroZona Foundation at South Mountain Community College.

"There are some people who have been coming twice, three times," she explained.

That was the story for another young woman we met, Mika, who says she had been to the same testing site the day before and was turned away. After extended family tested positive, she didn't want to take any chances. She says, she didn't have a choice but to come back and while she's very grateful for the work HeroZona is doing, she thinks it's the state that needs to step up testing.

"You would think they would have this more available or centralized or made available for people who don't have insurance or have a doctor."

But this isn't the only testing site with long lines. All over the Valley, that has been the story since Arizona's cases started surging last month.

And it's not just long lines but also long wait times, with some people waiting as long as two weeks to get results. But ASU's new saliva test could be a possible solution to speeding up the process.

"The accuracy is as good as the nasal swab, if not better," explains Dr. Joshua LaBaer, director of ASU's Biodesign Institute.

Dr. LaBaer says these spit samples are not only quicker to collect, but results come back in 24 to 48 hours.

So far, ASU has hosted several testing events across the Valley with more planned in the coming weeks.

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